tv Democracy Now LINKTV January 27, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PST
again. amy: today we spend the hour with a young man with autism who learned to interact with the world in an unusual way. his name is owen suskind at the age of 3, he was diagnosed with regressive autism. for years, he didn't speak. and then his father, the pulitzer prize winning journalist ron suskind, made a remarkable discovery -- he could communicate with his son by acting out scenes from disney films. >> owen, wh did you and i become such good friends? and he said, when i watched "aladdin," you made me laugh. and then we talked. owen and iago, foa minute, a minutend a half. it is the first conversation we have ever had. amy: owen and ron suskind join us today at the sundance film festival along with the academy award-winning filmmaker roger ross williams who directed a new
film about owen's life titled, "life, animated." all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in oregon, right-wing militia leaders ammon and ryan bundy have been arrested and group spokesperson lavoy finicum has reportedly been killed following a traffic stop along highway 395. the stop took place near the national wildlife refuge, where the bundys and their followers have maintained an armed occupation for more than three weeks. on january 2, the militia took over the wildlife refuge in support of two ranchers sentenced to prison for setting fires that burned federal land. the ranchers later turned themselves in to authoties. but militia members continued their occupation. for weeks, local residents and the paiute tribe -- which has treaty rights to the land --
have called on the militia to leave. on tuesday afternoon, oregon state troopers stopped the bundy brothers en route to a community meeting in john day, oregon. authorities say five people were arrested at the stop, and that shots were fired. officials did not identify the man who had been killed, but nevada state assemblyperson michele fiore says it was lavoy finicum, the militia's de facto spokesperson. authorities say an additional two people were arrested later in burns, and another man turned himself in to the police in arizona. all eight are facing federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general joseph dunford says he wants to begin taking "decisive military action" against the self-proclaimed islamic state in libya. libya is currently experiencing a political crisis, which began after a 2011 u.s. military intervention helped oust longtime dictator muammar gaddafi.
"the new york times" editorial board calls general dunford's announcement of a new military campaign in libya deeply troubling, writing -- "this significant escalation is being planned without a meaningful debate in congress. a new military intervention in libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent." meanwhile, general dunford says he is also preparing to ask for additional u.s.troops to be deployed to iraq. in egypt, human rights activists say hundreds of people have been subjected to "enforced disappearances," as president abdel fattah el-sisi widens his crackdown. have been reportedly held for hundreds months without charges or access to a lawyer in secret prisons run by sisi's security forces. many say they have been tortured. some have died in the secret prisons and their bodies later surfaced in morgues. nationalouncil ohuman rits lawyer nasser amin said -- "this is an unprecedented catastrophe for human rights and freedoms in egypt."
in canada, a human rights tribunal has issued a major ruling saying canada has discriminated against first nation's children by providing for of a kelly less funding child welfare services on reserves. the underfunding of services disproportionately pushed first nation's children into the custody of canada's child welfare system. are many, this recalls century long practice by the canadian government of forcing first nation's children into boarding schools aimed at stripping them of their indigenous heritage. cindy blackstock of the first nations child and family caring society spoke after tuesday's ruling. >> don't you think the one thing we can get in reconciliation is raising generation of first nations children that don't have to recover from their jobs anymore? amy: washington has announced new rules to continue to normalize relations between the united states and cuba. the measures will lifts restrictions on u.s. financing for exports to cuba and allow
the direct shipping of many products. previously, u.s. exports had to be routed through a third country before reaching cuba, and the shipments had to be paid for in advance with cash. the new measures, slated to take effect today, also extend rules allowing for increased travel. president obama says he is looking to travel to cuba before the end of his term next year. the united nations syria envoy has sent out invitations for friday's scheduled peace talks aimed at easing the devastation of the ongoing war in syria. it is not yet clear who will attend the talks, and which factions will represent the opposition. this comes as two bomb blasts killed at least 19 people in homs. in france, justice minister christiane taubira has resigned in protest over plans to strip people convicted of terrorism of their citizenship. the steps, set to go before parliament, were proposed in the wake of the november 13 attacks in paris that killed 130 people. taubira, one of france's few top black politicians, tweeted --
"sometimes staying on is resisting, sometimes resisting means leaving." in news from the campaign trail, republican presidential candidate donald trump says he will probably not participate in thursday's fox news hosted debate. this comes after trump spent days demanding fox remove megyn kelly as one of the debate moderators -- a demand that fox refused to meet. in august during a gop debate, the moderator megyn kelly, asked trump about his history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals." after the debate, trump criticized kelly saying -- "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, coming out of her wherever." , in sebring, ohio, schools were closed for the third day in a row after tests showed high levels of lead in the drinking water. pregnant women and children have been told not to drink the water.
ohio officials are sending bottled water and testing kits to the small village, which has about 4300 residents. the ohio environmental protection agency says the operator of the small water system submitted false reports to cover up the high levels of lead. meanwhile, in flint, michigan residents are protesting the , fact that they are still receiving water bills for the lead-poisoned water. the contamination crisis began after the michigan appointed unelected emergency manager of flint switched the source of the city's drinking water to the corrosive flint river in a bid to save money. on tuesday, resident melissa mays spoke out. >> we are still receiving bills pertain and water. it is ridiculous. and our bills have gone up. the average is around $200 a month for tainted water. it needs to stop. amy: in san francisco, sixteen people were arrested after blocking the streets around the immigration and customs
enforcement building tuesday. 10 of the protesters chained themselves together to block traffic. the action was held to protest the new round of raids against central american families. the raids have targeted people who have sought asylum in the united states after fleeing violence in their home countries. meanwhile, in upstate new york, 11 u.smilitaryeterans have been arrested after forming a human barricade to block traffic at a natural gas storage facility. the protest was part of an ongoing campaign to stop crestwood midstream from expanding gas storage in abandoned salt caverns at seneca lake, a drinking water source for 100,000 people. retired u.s. air force sergeant colleen boland spoke out at tuesday's protest. >> while on active duty, i traveled to over 20 countrie many ofhem placewhere inking wer was scarce, made children sick, fueled conflict and threaten security. i bring those experiences with me to the gates of crestwood
were first 16 months now, i have been peafully protesting the plan to store highly pressurized and volatile fossil fuels below this beautiful lake, the source of drinking water for 100,000 people. amy: and a leading indigenous environmental activist in peru has been barred from entering the united states. alberto pizango was supposed to come here to park city for the sundance film festival, where he is the subject of the new film "when two worlds collide." , it chronicles indigenous resistance to peruvian laws aimed at opening amazonian land to mining, logging, and oil extraction. on june 5, 2009, a crackdown on the protests left dozens of people dead, including indigenous people and police. pizango faces life in prison for the fatal clash, even though he wasn't there when it took place. but late last week when he arrived at the airport to come to sundance, he was blocked from
boarding his flight. he later went to the u.s. embassy in peru where he was told his u.s. visa had been revoked. he has not been told why. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from the sundance film festival here in park city, utah. today we spend the hour with a young man with autism who learned to interact with the world in an unusual way. his name is owen suskind. he was diagnosed with regressive autism at the age of 3. he stopped talking. his father said owen vanished within himself. he did not speak for years. and then his dad the pulitzer , prize winning journalist ron suskind, discovered a remarkable way to talk with his son involving characters from owen's favorite disney films. owen had memorized the lines to dozens of disney films. this discovery changed all of their lives opening a new way , for owen to communicate. his story became the focus of ron suskind's best selling book,
"life, animated: a story of sidekicks, heroes, and autism." owen has since gone to college and now holds two jobs. last year, owen, who is now in his even appeared on a comedy 20's, central special alongside the comedian gilbert gottfried who did the original voice of iago in the disney film, "aladdin." >> well, hello, owen. >> hello. >> owen, you like doing scenes from "aladdin," right? >> i do. >> want to do one with me right now? >> yes, i would. >> which seen? let me see if i remember any of these. i can't believe it. i just don't believe it. get a holdr going to of that stupid plan. just forget it. look at this. i am so ticked off, i'm molting.
>> patients, iago. paents. [applause] 's lifee story of owen has been turned into the documentary, "life, animated" which just premiered here at the sundance film festival. the film is directed by roger ross williams, the first african american director to win an academy award. on tuesday, i spoke to owen suskind, his father ron and roger ross williams here in park city. owen, how did it feel to stand up at the sundance film festival after a film about your life and a half people giving you a standing ovation, not for one minute, not for two minutes, not for five minutes -- how many minutes to people stand and applaud you? >> a couple of great times.
and i loved it. amy: how does a field have a film about your life? >> it feels wonderful, actually. >> are you surprised at how good it feels? >> yeah. >> iago owen has been thriving in front of an audience. the audience loves owen and owen loves the audience and it has been a joy to see. amy: roger, can you talk about why decided to make this film and how it all happened? >> ron and i have known each other for about 15 years. we worked together years ago on nightline and pbs. when ron was working on the book, he approached me and said, this is going to make a great film and i jumped on it. film about thea zimbabwean are with severe disabilities that won an academy award. for me, it is about championing
the outsider, telling the story of those left behind. whole vastents a population of people who of so much to offer us and we are losing out by not recognizing the genius of people like a win. amy: owen, what does it mean to be artistic? >> it means you have special talents and skills. amy: what are those talents? >> oh, gosh. pianoa good artist and a play a good writer, author, and storyteller. and possibly a good golfer and a great problem solver. because of each person's individual. what is your special talent? >> drawing animation, especially from disney and disney pixar. amy: let's take a step back, ron susskind, a talk about your life with your younger son, with owen . >> he was about three, he gets whacked with autism.
it is late set autism, same as most kids -- most kids are born with it, but he is chatting away and then vanishes at three, loses all speech. amy: what you mean, he vanishes? >> he stopped speaking and what look at you, all of the side to .ook for and fear as to autism it just sort of suddenly comes upon him in a few months right around the time he is three years old. my wife and i are just stunned. one of the things that we thatzed in this fear is the thing he was after the onset of the autism is similar to before he -- he loved the disney animated movies. oftenhe years, he speaks in gibberish. you're not sure what he is saying. right around the time that this clip occurs, we have a revelation, that he is memorized 50 disney animated movies as sound alone. if you throw him a line, he throws back the next line. that is what i discovered the night i hold up the iago puppet,
which is the scene you're about to see. was that a big night for us? the first time we talked his your two years old. >> i'm so happy. i love that night. amy: let's go to a clip from "life, animated." >> i go up to his room and i see owen on the bedlipping rough sney boo and i see sort of over to my left, i see iago, the puppet. iago is the evil sidekick to the villain jafar from "aladdin." owen loves this puppet. i grabbed the puppet, politico my elbow, and i begin a crawl across the rug as quietly as i can. owen turns to the puppet like he is bumping into it old friend i say to him, "owen, owen, how does it feel to be you?." >> and i said, not good, because
i don't have any friends. >> now i am under the bed spread and i just bite down hard. myself, stay in care or. on, whend, "ok, ok, did you d i become such good friends?" and he said, when i watched "aladdin," you made me laugh. and then we talked. ow and iag, for a minute, a minute and a half. it is the first conversation we have ever had. amy: so that is the moment to stop now, is it possible, owen, that you remember when your dad was talking to you under the sheet with the puppet? >> yep. >> how did it feel? >> it felt good. >> we're never really talked
before, you knew i was under the sheet, though, right? but still, iago, "well, i don't know." jafar,ke back to me in what did he say that? your mind the way works." next line ofhe dialogue and that is what we knew, oh, my, we can converse in disney dialogue. we could not speak at that point. if you threw him a line, he would throw back the next. he would out when you click because he had hours of dialogue in the said. we do you do speak -- we began to speak in disney dialogue. amy: before that, on its at a few things and you got was really processing. the doctor told you it was -- form -- the term that the kids just repeat as sound alone.
they don't understand. amy: it is echoing. >> i said coming mean like a parent? he said, kind of. i said, can he understand? he said, and this was 1994, 1995, we don't think he does. that went on for years before you have this moment with iago. of course, we had great therapist and before he says this, he is up to about a three "ord sentence, "i want juice and that is about all. but then there's this explosion we see is this deep well of understanding, processing all of the disney movies. amy: that word "jucie"." explain this part, just your voice. why was this so important? how old were you when he says something that your parents did not quite understand? just shy of your fourth birthday. amy: did you guys and your mom think you're asking for juice? >> yes, but i was trying to read
the dialogue from "little mermaid." >> this is where she has to make a trade to become human and the sea which ursula says to her -- >> [indiscernible] >> at that moment we said, it is just."ice, he is saying "jus its the first time he looked at me in a year, the first time he looked right at me. and we knew something was going on. it took three years before we got to iago, and that is where things got crazy. to: you have been listening owen susskind, his father ron suskind, pulitzer prize winning journalist. their featured in the new document "life, animated. directed by roger ross williams which just reappear sundance film festival. we will continue with our conversation in a minute. ♪ [music break]
amy: sisters of invention. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. from parkadcasting city, utah, the sundance film festival as we return to our conversation with owen suskind, the subject of a new document ray, "life, animated." i spoke with him and his dad and the film maker roger ross williams. why do you love disney so much? >> because it is fun and entertaining, keeps me happy and entertaining and upbeat. >> what is it about disney different from other animated movies or movies in general? why do you think that is the one you picked? > because -- >> what is different about the characters? -- because they help
me express my feelings. you graduated, the mick -- big moment in the film, what was the school you graduated from? >> that w from rirview hool, a llege-li progr in a sool for folks wh velopmenl challees on ca cod. >> it was riverview. amy: there's a part were you're nervous about moving. you say to your dad, could we watch just a couple of scenes about moving? what movie did you want to see? >> is that when we watched "dumbo"? it has a big moving scene. >> it does. amy: did it help you? >> it did. amy: why? >> what is it that you love
about "dumbo congo what is it deep down? >> finding your inner hero. >> that is what "dumbo" is about. his years make him an outcast, right? >> correct. >> what does he find out? >> that he is special. >> the thing that makes them different is what? >> his ears? >> and his greatest strength. >> yep. >> want to do some "dumbo"? >> "dumbo." some fun-loving gags, too. >> what is timothy say that helps them fulfill his destiny? dumbo, we will, get you to fly. they say, "all you need is college, you know,
psychology. and that right, boys iago you are the big deal. the magic center. the magic center? yeah, i've got you. the magic feather. now you can fly. when yous so touched went to paris. you were invited to address a group of, what were they, ,rofessionals, psychologist doctors, social workers? >> yes. >> all of them. amy: what were you telling them? >> that i am -- any code d remember standing there? >> yes, i do. amy: i did not know you knew french. >> who taught you does french words? >> mom and dad. cogswell, mom, i don't know any french. amy: why were you standing there
and giving a speech to all of these people that could have been your parents and your grandparents? well -- >> remember, you talked about the hunchback. what did you find that was so powerful? amy: "the hunchback of medford aim." >> yep. amy: tell us about what you learned from the hunchback of notre dame. >> quasimodo doesn't get the girl, but he becomes the hero and is no longer an outcast. >> why did you do a hunchback seen iago it is one of your most meaningful emotional ones about quasimodo. >> how about hugo, victor, and laverne. hugo victor and laverne are quasimodo's three fun-loving place full, lucky comic relief girlfriends and friends.
yep, i can do it. give me a second. >> taken from an old spectator, life isn't a spectator sport. watching is all you're going to do, then you're going to watch her life go by. hair --r human with the right, victor? you speech you give us, if poison us, do we not grow moss?" >> and that is a big one for you to "life isn't a sptator ort." y: so today, owen, u have a job. >> yea amy: wherere you worng? >> toys " us andhe regal cinema. in cape cod where i live. amy: whayou do athe movi theater? >> iip up tiets for e custers and ow themwhat the it orhe movie is playing in and sometimes i sleep. amy: you get to sometimes see
free movies? >> yeah. amy: do you like movies that aren't disney? >> i don't mind. >> you were telling me recently about going through some tough times, getting knocked down. you told me a scene from "batman" and who did you do, alfred? do it for amy. owen grabs scenes from lots of movies. he is gone of the expert. he finds it seems that help them navigate the world. what does alfred? >> why do we fall, sir? so we can learn to pick ourselves up again." horseetting back on the saddle. amy: can you do a scene with your dad? what would be a good one to do? >> simba and mufasa. >> you do both parts? amy: what movie is this from? >> "the line king." >> when simba is grown-up, the
young adult lion, he sees the magical ghost of his dead dad asa who was-- muf killed by his evil uncle scar. he says "simba, you forgotten me. no, how could i? you have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. look inside yourself, simba. you are more than what you have become. you must take your place in the circle of life. how can i go back? i'm not who i used to be. are.ber who you in the one true
king. are."er who you amy: what does that teach you about life, owen? >> you must move on from the past. >> what does it say about who you are? >> i am your son and the one true king. [laughter] >> what does it say to you, dad? >> it says oh and is growing into no longer a sidekick, as he often thought of himself, but to become the hero of his own journey. and that is happening with each day, and certainly happening here at sundance. it is been in a very weak. amy: i want to talk about two major changes in your life, owen , and how you overcame them. one was moving from that school-like facility, that home, to being independent and moving
at your own apartment. how hard was that? >> it was a little bit hard, but not too hard. it would be a great place to have my own place. amy: i don't know if it is hard to relive it when you see the film about your life, when you see " "life, animated," but you had a girlfriend for three years and then she broke up with you when you move into an apartment and she was living right next to it her apartment. how did you cope with that? >> it took me the rest of that a whole year of 2015 to get over it. i have finally gotten over it. amy: how? >> by learning i can always meet another new girl who has the exact same fun interest, like i do. >> like what?
>> it was a fun movie fanatic and loves fun children's family colorful movies and animated ones in disney and disney pixar, and also other fun things is to collect disney collectibles like disneygical, fun color on ice show in disney parks and universal studios parks. >> at one point after you were working through that breakup, you said something i think from inside out, didn't you? >> emotions. >> you use the characters brilliantly. what did you say about sadness and fear and joy? >> i want to put joy back in charge for the rest of my life. amy: you want to put joy back in charge. what is joy? >> joy is the main character of "inside out." >> what you mean by that, owing?
>> i don't want to be sad forever. >> are you feeling joy now? books yet. >> it is hard because you had to get through the breakup of a first relationship, first big one. >> well, there was a second one. >> but this was your first big relationship. that is something that helps us grow up, part of what you do in the movies. is it odd free to watch that happening on the screen? that is a little different, right? >> yeah. >> how does it feel now? >> good and better. >> the wonderful thing about this film, it is a true coming-of-age story. it is a true coming-of-age story thatveryone can relate to becae everyo has their first love in the first breakup and moves into their permit for the first time and becomes independent and graduates. owen, the stakes are higher, but he is experiencing something we all experience and we all feel,
and i think that is why the film connects with so many people. amy: roger, we would not know the stories it wasn't your absolute mastery of this artform. i mean, what you did with this as theoing from owen main character and all of your theliance in this, owen, to disney characters and going back and forth -- now, disney is known for being very proprietary. how do we get to see so many of these cartoons? , sean bailey, the president of disney, i connected with him, he is a trustee on the board of sundance and i'm on the alumni board. sundance put us in touch with each other. .t was a process many meetings with disney. it in the end, they were supportive and licensed the clips. they don't have any editorial control over the film, but they're supportive because it is a very positive story. why would they not want to
support it? >> in a way, it is universal story about how we movies to shape our lives and we'll talk about that, how important stories are in shaping our reality. of course, owen, like claude in the desert island with 50 movies, had to make sense of himself in the place of the world from those movies most of the universal theme is how powerful movies are in shaping us. owen really had to rely on that. amy: owen, do you do animations yourself? >> yes, i do. >> he draws them powerfully and beautifully. yes homage emotion he invest in them. and that is why they're very vivid and powerful of color and splashes of emotions. and he, in a way, communicated through those pictures for the years. he would drop picture of a sidekick and handed to you. he turned the whole family into psychics. often i was marlon and my wife was mrs. potts were big momma from --
>> "fox and hound." amy: what are your two famous lines? what do you mean by it? well, no, what do i mean by it? >> you wrote it a long time ago. >> "no friend to get less behind." amy: you are the protector of sidekicks? >> yes. a what does that mean? how do protect sidekicks? side.eep on the sunny >> it was really important for me as a filmmaker to tell the story from owen's point of view, to get inside his head. that is why owen addresses the audience directly and why we create this world of sidekicks that owen himself created and bring it to life because a lot of films you see about people with a disability it is from the
outside looking in. it is important is film was from the inside looking out. amy: that is the part i could not get, how you could stand, owen, to bfollowedy cama -- these are some of the most difficult times of anyone's life. you're told your girlfriend is breaking up with you, and we are watching you try to figure out -- figure this all out. that means a camera was in your face. >> yes. amy: did you get used to the camera being there? >> i got a little used to it. i forgot. >> thomas, the cameraman was with you a lot. you liked him? >> yeah. >> thomas was part of the family. i mean, thomas would be there filming and owen would fall asleep at night and there when he would wake up. it was really important to have someone who was consistent and who -- who owen could rely on and who owen knew so we bettered ourselves with this family. >> just briefly one thing that is interesting, thomas had to be there a lot because owen doesn't
do things for effect in a transactional way. when the troops come bubbling up, they come at all kinds of times. thomas had to be there when a once great moments of wisdom emerged, often through stress or situations he was in her ways to solve problems. >> someone we have not talked about, we talked about your mom and dad, talked about the camera person, what about your brother walter? x oh, he is good. amy: he's your older brother? >> my older brother and my only sibling. amy: what have you taught him? >> how to help me through my life. amy: he is very concerned about that. a knows you guys are kind of moon unit for the rest of your lives. >> what is a moon unit? amy: i don't know why i used that term, but you two are together for the rest of your lives. >> what did you teach walter? >> disney movies are a great thing. >> definitely that.
what else have you taught walter about courage and resilience? >> courage and resilience. >> what have you taught your brother? >> he is your hero, isn't he? >> yeah. >> i have an idea, what character of your many characters right now if walter was sitting with us would you have -- >> i would say baloo. >> what would he say? >> come on, give us a beat. >> one of your other favorite to say as marlon. this is from "sword in the stone . >> >> you know, boy, this is a powerful thing. greater than gravity? why, yes, boy, i think the greatest on earth." >> they talk about love and
about finding love and love in their life. "hercules." the voice of danny devito, the little round goat man. --pales's how friend friend. >> a key sidekick for you. toherc? he say he has some tough times, doesn't he? >> yep. allten, kid, i've seen them and i am telling you, this is the honest truth, you've got something i've never seen before. really, phil? really, kid. i can feel it in the stubborn legs of mine. and if you keep trying and believe in yourself, there is
nothing you can't do." good one. a want to do "mulan"? >> the emperor of china says, "the flower that blooms is the rarest and most beautiful of all." >> what would you say? >> i'm the rarest and most beautiful of all. >> the flower blooming in adversity. amy: you started this -- >> at riverview. i am the first official -- i am the first official president and the official founder of disney club. amy: and you would all watch the movies together. and one of your friends played disney songs, right? >> birmingham. >> special gift, he could play anything.
amy: speaking of special gifts, ron, this is the 100th anniversary of the pulitzer prize in your pulitzer prize winner. you are writing for "the wall street journal" and that was in owen plus years, so here you are a man of the limit his words and your son come as you say, words,ng -- voluminous and your son, as you say, vanishing. how was that? you want a pulitzer prize for covering voiceless people as well. >> my wife and i say the book and the movie are about owen changing, but it is how he changed the rest of us. no long after he is hit with the autism, my career starts to change. i start looking for left behind people all over the world in andr-city america afghanistan of pakistan. i realize that owen is shaking me and teaching me. is shaping meowen
and teaching me. is in a way,ful owen leads all of those other characters in finding a voice and, certainly, since those days, that is what my career has been. amy: who is cedric jennings? >> cedric jennings was the first of the characters right after owen is diagnosed with autism, i travel across washington to the worst high school i can find in america and meet cedric, the prickly honor student who walks a gauntlet in a gang dominated high school entrance of going to the ivy league. i follow him for three years. that is when does that is what wins the pulitzer. cedric and owen met early on and here are two outcast. owen couldn't say a list anything in those days, but he and cedric had a bond. they sat on the couch of our house. remember cedric? what did you do when you first saw each other? >> i don't know, what did we do?
>> you set on the couch and just laughed. like they were on an inside joke about were human value sometimes hides. forth. it can shine of course, we are all buddies, still. another member of the family, like roger. and the whole gang now that has been brought together around our guy. amy: your written about george bush. you have written books about george bush, about barack obama. talk about the difference in being this fierce critic, investigator, investigator journalist, and writing the story of your own life and living your life. >> for many years, we had a kind we didn'tlife where talk to folks about this private life. i was living a very public life. i was cutting whipsaw between
them sitting with presidents, often having them tell me things that may or may not be totally true, investigating some of the perfidy's of this age. and in the basement, we would meditate on the emergence of a hero. i think part of that dialectic, that dialogue was one that eventually i said, people should know that is really what was happening. interestingly, what people are evenng in the story is, the bigger theme, which is one that in some ways all of the presidents, you know, maybe talk about but often duck, which is about the left behind people in this world who are not on the table. more and more with each passing day. how do we get them to a place where their voices are heard? you know, that, of course, is the great, you know, struggle of our age with inequality, with these enormous gaps between those of privilege and so much of the rest of us. amy: we will return to our conversation with ron and owen
suskind and phil maker roger arrest williams in a moment. williamsker roger ross in a moment. ♪ [music break] amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from the sundance film festival in park city, utah, from park city television. we return to our interview with owen and ron suskind and phil maker roger ross claims about their film, "life, animated." enormousclear that resources in addition to your devotion and love have gone into working with owen and making
sure that, owen, your life is fully protected and that you are the amazing person that you are today. >> yeah. amy: so how did you do it and what do you say to those without the resources? >> it is something we talk to thousands of families these days, since selling the book came out, and even more now with the movie. -- since the book came out, and even more with the movie. we are advocates that the therapies needed for autism are covered by insurance. i think 38 states do, many states don't, are not fully covered. it is difficult for so many families. the one thing we do say, if it ib possible to trim your j enough that one pair can stay home, that was import for us in important for many. withther thing we found all of the money we spent, the thing that had the greatest outcome is finding owen's passion, his affinity and say, whatever it is, we're going to go deep into that. it could be disney, cars,
astronomy, maps. we're going to live inside his world. and in there, we will essentially find a way to build a vessel that he can drive out into the world. that is something that is mostly what they would call sweat equity, just time, often in the evenings, of us all being together and saying whatever his passion is, will be our passion. we are no great disney fans just out with, but we became them because owen created a holding which using disney. amy: but annette life of assisted living, of the school, you clearly found one of the finest schools, what do you say to other parents who don't have the resources to be able to provide that kind of support? >> right now we are leading advocacy to get legislation changed death the government say, you know, it helps everyone if guys like owen get the support they need to be productive members of society. and what we find, it is often by
tapping their intense interest in the thing that animates them. that is why the book is called, "life, animated." once you find skills that are often overlooked that end up being pathways to jobs, careers, and you productive. 's 24 --ly when owen when they hit 22, they get out of school, they have to find their way somehow. is mostg we found that hopeful is so many of the people who are autistic are in this left behind group because of her own blind spot as to the things they can do if we just look at the world through their eyes, you see those capabilities. and that leads to the independent life, which is owen's great struggle and desire is to find the independent life. >> the independent life. >> have you found it? >> yep. >> for many times, these were called restrictive interest in therapist would say, payment or cut it off. amy: meaning, if he's in the disney cartoons, to let him --
>> stop, it is an obsession. that is the way autism view them for long time. we said, no, no, it is a pathway. go in there with him and that is what we did. now all of a sudden, we're looking at these special interest as ways to show deep capabilities. if you find them and her we called and affinities, the kid grows. amy: another example? >> they're all over the place. 70 contacted us recently -- 70 contacted us recently, in a speech about five years old, they live in new york city. the kid is drawing logos. there are logos all over new york, just like owen draws characters. the house is full of logos precisely drawn. the one point, the child can the mother the sleepy's mattress logo. she looks down issues like, "nap."
it is speech. the next thing, the family singing jingles and that is how as child gets speech back seven or eight years old. now that is a special kid with profound talents. he will reinvent advertising someday. instead of being a kid in the discard pile. and, autism is a heavy lift important remember lots of kids have deep deficits that we are working so hard to help them with. but what we are finding is when you match the strengths with the deficits, often they help themselves. they form the bond that leads them forward. look, any kid like this, it is a question of a square peg in a round hole. for many years we're saying, let's shave off the edges. the fact is, the edges of the best part. that is the big change. help them be larger versions of themselves. they actually are quite self-directed. they know their strengths. and when they do that, you get a kid like owen whose self-esteem
is fabulous. he's like, he set it at his bar mitzvah, "i'm special, the special is a real word, not a word meaning less. i'm not less, i'm just different. and i'm a proud come autistic man who is different. embrace that i'm different and celebrate it." that is what he said at that speech in france. that is a great story for all of wheremilies with kids people who deal with autism, who are artistic, that helps the world look at them, i think, with new eyes. and that is part of what is happening here because of all this occurring. amy: roger, you are here at the sundance film festival with this masterpiece, with "life, animated." you won an oscar for music for "prudence." you were the first african-american to win an academy award for dr. henry short. this year there is the whole
controversy at the oscars, which is in just this year, but, no actor of color with even nominated -- was even nominated for an oscar. people are calling for boycotts. i'm wondering what you feel about this? >> you know, i was the first director to win for directing a film --period. african-americans had won and the acting category, but never in the directing category, which was shocking to me. and, youhe academy know, i think the problem starts with hollywood. hollywood has to diversify. the academy just reflects hollywood. and until we break those barriers and until we have african-american or minority studio executives, until we have people who are greenlighting movies with african-american actors, the academy is not going to change until hollywood changes, so we have to start with hollywood. amy: do you endorse a boycott of the oscars this year? >> i think we have to work with
hollywood. we have to work in the system and change it. i don't think boycotting is the answer. i think the answer -- and i am in the academy, and i am pushing the academy to diversify the membership. the academy and the oscars are comic when that is not what a change. let's try to make a difference and try to have a voice as african-americans, as minorities, and change it. amy: talk about with the oscar meant for you. because the significance of getting this award, what is been deprived -- what so many have been deprived of, what did it mean when you won the oscar for "music for prudence"? >> you feel the weight of history. .ou feel responsible i'm a mentor. for me, it is about mentoring young black film makers and
talking to them. i go out across the country -- we working with the sundance institute mentoring people. it is about, like, you can do this, too. i think from nothing. my mother was a maid a my father pumped gas. i came from a very poor family. i was able to rise up and actually win an academy award. if i can do it, any kid can do it. amy: the one, did you see "music for prudence"? no.o you want to se amy: do you want to see it? >> maybe sometime. >> owen can only tell the truth. >> there's not a choice. it is like jim carrey and "liar, liar." >> is like a fairytale. amy: roger, quickly, how did you end up getting into films and making her wait onto the oscar stage and what did you say in your acceptance speech? >> oh, god. ok.
well, i'm a journalist and i was working for cnn, i believe, at the time, and i realized that what the real honest stories, real journalism was happening in documentary film and i wasn't satisfied working for the mainstream media. so i quit. i had $5,000. i flew to them always a good chance i made my first film. zimbabwe and took a film. and made my first it was about tying the truth and truth was coming from document refers to amy: last question, "life, animated" is it going to be showing at the movie theater you work at? >> yes. nema inregal ci hyannis. >> when? >> that is why we're here. hopefully, it will be an regal cinemas. amy: you're going to go from
punching people stick is to get into the showing of the film and then you're going to go up on stage afterward? >> will that be fun? >> it will be. amy: appreciate taking the time. is anything i forgot to ask you are you would like to say? >> finish with your favorite line from "merlin." sit up straight. you want to do the one you did at your graduation? >> yeah. "wisdom is the rope how are you, boy." >> knowledge and wisdom. and because the real power. thank you so much. >> you're welcome. amy: thank you for being here and thank you for a magnificent exploration of life and thank you, oh, for sharing her life with all of us. what's you are welcome. any code that is owen suskind and his dad, pulitzer prize-winning journalist ron suskind and the oscar-winning
filmmaker roger ross williams talking about the new documentary, "life, animated" that premiered here the sundance film festival. that does it for the show. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 ne
- hello, i'm john cleese. have you ever met a shaman or a spirit healer? well, if not, you're about to, because in this very special program, an eskimo shaman from greenland will be meeting for the first time a mayan spirit healer right here in our global spirit studio. it's a meeting of two wisdom traditions who have more in common than you might think, starting with what we all have in common: mother earth. so it's time to settle back and take a slow, deep breath as we join our trusted guide and host, phil cousineau, on this uniquely indigenous episode of global spirit, the first "internal travel" series. [percussive music]